A word from a restaurant owner: Reinfried Steiner from "Steiner's - Local Experience"

Reinfried Steiner has been running the restaurant "Steiner's - Lokales Erlebnis" in the centre of Eben im Pongau for 40 years. He tells us about the beginnings of the restaurant, the in-house dressings and the never-ending adventure of cooking.

From wine bar to award-winning restaurant

Reinfried was born and grew up in Eben im Pongau, after school he completed an apprenticeship as a chef/waiter. Hospitality probably runs in the family: his grandparents already had an inn around 1910 and his mother ran the Hutterergut, better known today as the Steiner Youth Guesthouse. The restaurant where "Steiner's" is located today was originally his sister's wine bar, the "Weinfassl" (The Wine Barrel). In 1984, Reinfried took over the pub, extended the kitchen and transformed the "Fassl" into a restaurant. While the charm of the wine bar was retained inside, the restaurant grew outside: a gallery, terrace and pavilion now provide ample seating. But it wasn't just the restaurant that continued to develop. Over time, Reinfried acquired more and more knowledge and skills, for which the Steiner restaurant was awarded a star at the end of 1989. This award filled Reinfried and his team with pride; it was the first star for a restaurant in Eben. However, the restaurant was sometimes too specific for the wide-ranging clientele. "Guests came in, saw the finely laid tables and asked if a wedding was taking place," he recalls with a smile.

The guest takes centre stage

The award-winning restaurant became a restaurant for everyone again - what may sound like a step backwards at first was actually an important step forwards. "We have a regular couple, for example, she likes fish, and he likes pizzas." As an all-rounder, Steiner's manages the balancing act between classic dishes and sophisticated combinations: A careful selection of Austrian home cooking, Mediterranean specialities and homemade pizzas and salads leave nothing to be desired. The landlord has also adapted the rooms and tables to his various target groups: Cosy corners for a relaxed evening for two, an informal atmosphere for an after-work drink in the pavilion, spacious tables for families and small groups in the gallery. "The nature of the restaurant should be reflected in what's on offer," says Reinfried. One look at Steiner's and its menu shows how well he has succeeded.

Life should taste good

Reinfried has been serving his homemade French dressing with his popular salad creations for over 20 years. Guests soon asked if the dressing was also available to make at home. Reinfried took this idea to heart, tweaked the French dressing and developed other dressings. Under the motto "Steiner's - Life should taste good", he launched the seed oil, herb and French dressing varieties on the market. The dressings are available at steiner's and in Billa stores throughout the province and have grown into a second mainstay. "The fact that supermarket chains were increasingly looking for small, regional producers and manufacturers during this time was of course a great advantage for us," explains the chef. The next big goal: Steiner's salad refinements should find their place on hotel salad buffets. There are still a few steps to be taken to achieve this goal: Higher production quantities and necessary certificates demand different requirements, which is why a dressing factory is planned right next to the restaurant.

Kitchen adventure

"As a chef, you should always be open to new things, whether in terms of dishes, service, equipment or ambience - for the total work of art that is gastronomy. Cooking is a profession that never ends," explains the restaurateur. "When I go out to eat, I always look to see if there's anything on the menu that's new to me. I then try it." In addition to other restaurants, he also uses cookery shows and social media as a source of inspiration. Cuisine is constantly evolving, so chefs need to be creative. However, the experienced restaurateur advises them to be careful when experimenting: "Some chefs, especially young ones, try out too much". However, Reinfried doesn't just visit other restaurants because he is looking for inspiration. He is a passionate connoisseur - and not just in the kitchen. He prefers to spend his free time in nature and recharges his batteries for his professional tasks and projects by going on ski tours, skiing or hiking. And he does this perfectly in his home region.

PS: On the Steiner's homepage you will find some recipe ideas with the delicious salad refinements:

photo credits: Steiners Eben im Pongau, Tourismusverband Eben